The paunchy healer gets to his feet, “So,” Ugnan pauses for a moment to make sure everyone is listening, “it’s been a week since we got back from the Island. We’ve tailed some people, explored a bit, bought a few nice things, and spent time in libraries and administration buildings. I’d like to sum up what I’ve got written down here.” He waggles his worn leather covered notebook with an ink stained hand.
“Back at the Island, Dirn told us about the mysterious riders who appeared three weeks before us. They were strangers who went straight up to the house in the evening and thundered back to the docks at dawn. Luckily, they dropped a small copper token which had stamp of a palm print. This was the emblem of the White Hand, a newly established dangerous bunch from Sel-Kai who specialise in drugs, extortion and now it seems, assassinations. This is also the same White Hand who Olvar moved goods to.”
Licking his thumb, he smiles to himself then flicks over a page, “The ghost with no tongue is Leonal Orgillion (4306 – 4396). His portrait was bolted to the wall though looks like someone tried to prise it off and scratch out his name. We couldn't find any record of why his tongue was removed but he died of old age, so it wasn't fatal.” He scrapes away something from the bottom of the page, “The missing diary in the house was the one we found on the body in the crypt.” After moving onto the next page, he continues, “Deltar is central. We’ve been following him and should hear back shortly. We do know he married into Betaran and then they bought the manor, very likely at his request. It is most likely his scheme rather than theirs. No one has heard of Quaal, a minor backwater probably, but he must’ve checked out if Betaran let him marry in. However, we know different as, after speaking with our ex-pirates, they told us of how he arranged to smuggle out small amounts of kidnapped Sel-Kai residents, store them at the Manor until enough of them gathered to make the trip to Plasidar worthwhile. There, they sold them as slaves and bought weapons with the proceeds before shipping those back to Sel-kai.” He looks up from the page for a moment, frowning in thought, “Makes you wonder why they need all those weapons really. Enough to arm a good force I’d say or to sell to make a pretty piece. Anyway,” His bloodshot eyes dart downwards again, “concerning Elgata, those ships he hired us to find out about were on a crucial venture. If attacked, then Elgata would have lost a lot of money and greatly annoyed a powerful patron. Thanks to us, they managed to avoid this. Eloen thought that Betaran would not be so open with a direct attack and believes this to be pirates and or a Deltar thing. He added that it was very unlikely that Deltar knows the patron but would know the cargo was worth stealing.”
He pauses, nods slightly, then says hesitantly at first, “Maybe not relevant to the matter in hand of the Iron Bell but we also found out more about Getan Elgata, Aldaran’s non-identical twin. He was establishing new trade routes with Jaiman focused on timber and was giving new impetus to the business but was found floating in canal with his throat cut. On the evening of the death, one guard was poisoned and never recovered and the other man guarding him claimed he was struck from behind. Getan was coming from a house of ill repute, the Red Curtain, when attacked. He was there for hours and had been there before on several occasions. Elgata would love to crack that mystery.” He absently strokes his coin purse.
“Right, never mind that for the moment. Before disbanding the Spicers, the Prince had a private meeting though the documents do not say who with but the following morning the Prince summoned councillors and ordered that the guild be closed. Strangely, the Spicers did not appeal or protest it. It’s also of note that the Spicers guild was set up to look into the mystery of the Dragons and in the same year of their forced closure (5704) the Great White Dragon was seen in Eidolon the floating city.”
He looks up out the window as he turns another page. “A few answers about the inhabitants of the manor. Hywell didn't have any brothers, sisters or children who died young thus the four children in the crypt remains a mystery. It looks like T’Chagga would have easily survived on vermin in the house for 60 years and was likely waiting all along. Leopold and Dasidara’s marriage was scandalous as she was carrying Larkrise and Sunset in her belly from another man’s seed at the time. Research shows Dasidara wanted the asylum to be set up and she put a lot of her own money into it. She is quoted as saying the Spicers were as guilty as anyone and should help those seers and prophets who needed rest and help because of their studies and work. Speaking of research, there has been a lot of research on automata and transferring someone’s essence into one, allowing them to greatly expand their lifespan. The one we have is unique and very tough. But it is lifeless though looks like it may pull a soul from magical people. The symbols on the ward would keep T’Chagga from it. If that demon had taken over it then it would have been able to roam around the island!” He taps part of the page he is reading, “Ah, that reminds me, I must make a note to go to the healing houses and ask about murders using poisoned thread.”
He turns towards the writing desk before changing his mind, “No, better cover these last pages first! The Asylum! Those sketches did not resemble the huge misshapen creatures which we now know to be flesh golems. The code over the doors was just a counting system though, interestingly, Larkrise and Sunset were the first two patients. There were notes to keep them apart but when a mistake was made that put them together strange events started happening. Other patients had break-downs, guards started hearing and seeing things and then there was the fire. It was intense, probably arcane in nature and it allowed Larkrise and Sunset to escape. The cruciform murders happened afterwards. We’ve drawn a map, look how those lines cross.” He nods towards the writing table.
As some of the others study the map, he takes a quick swig from his silver flask, “If I may continue? Good. We investigated rituals around inscribing bones and found very little specifics but generally, if the Fey own you then they will engrave their markings by magic upon your very living bones. That child’s finger we found was the only one with the markings so someone, owned by the Fey, made it out of the room minus a finger. By the way, the Fey give us Essaence and it ebbs and flows because of their battles between the Winter and Summer Courts. Well that’s what that book said, it may not all be true. Other books did corroborate that portals are commonly used and that if their magic comes from the Fey then it stands to reason that Queen Mab has a lot to do with portal magic. This also explains why the Winter Fey have been drawn to us as both Sylke and I use portal magic. We know they have as a winter sylph of the Fey has been observing us, that was that blue creature on the docks and in the Asylum. The winter Fey use them for spying and gathering info. Staying with portals, the one in the Old Sword is on the site where the Spicers guild used to be.”
He considers his audience for a moment, “Look, this may come in handy therefore you might as well know about these Fey. The Summer and Winter courts are rivals. Both are forbidden from interacting with us, we would have to go to them. They each have one chosen champion, the Winter Knight and the Summer Knight, and they are from our world. Queen Mab is the ruler of the winter court and Titania of the Summer. Both courts are structured the same. There is a king, but he is not as important as the Queen. There are three of them for each court. The Queen That Was, That Is, and That Will Be. The most powerful is the Crone or the Queen That Was who is retired. The Queen That Is are those that hold the power, Queen Mab and Titania. These two hate each other but still need each other so will never totally destroy one another’s court. Finally, the Queens Who Will Be are the Summer Lady and Winter lady and are the Queens in waiting. They are the ones to watch as they want power.”
“Azydaer!” He proclaims rather too loudly as he tries to keep his companions’ attention, “This is the realm of Demons. The books say the Fey stop them from coming into the mundane world. The Fey don’t want this world to die as if the world dies then magic dies and then they die. So, we may have allies in the Fey! Well, if she can stop shouting at us for a moment!” He snorts then looks towards his shield fearfully, “Though lovely women that Queen Mab! I’d love to give her back the Heart of Agoth but all the books pertaining to it have been taken elsewhere. Possibly to the upper floor of the arcane library we were at. I wish she’d given us more information.” He leaves his gaze on the shield. “We couldn't find anything on the phrase, ‘Unkissed, unloved, unwanted, unremembered, forgotten’ either.”
After a moment, he shrugs and turns to his final page. “The Cult of the Bell or Iron Bell. There were no arcane references to this, but the administration bureau had some reports of rumours of this cult. Some murderers have confessed to doing wrong on the orders of the cult but that’s it, hence they are not well known, may not be big or are very secretive. We have an idea where they are, and where Patience may be too. There are huge cisterns under the city which hold large amounts of clean drinking water. Ancient, they are no longer used as the city got too big for the cisterns and their pumps to keep up. Those pumps may or may not have stopped working and we have no maps of the cisterns though they would be under the older part of city. And that’s all I’ve got.”
He pops his journal into the inside of his jacket and sits down.